Coronavirus Becomes Hot Topic for Crypto-Scams

Coronavirus Becomes Hot Topic for Crypto-Scams

By Benson Toti - min read

There has been a record increase in scams that use the pandemic to fool unsuspecting netizens

The FBI previously issued a warning to all netizens regarding an expected increase in the number of phishing and website scams due to the coronavirus outbreak.

A recurrent narrative in these new scams pertains to COVID-19, as scammers seize this opportunity to capitalise on the pandemic. New websites that have popped up are reported to be advertising fake COVID-19 cryptocurrencies and crypto-wallets that are configured to siphon data for phishing. Another goes as far as to claim that the value of its cryptocurrency rises alongside each death from the virus.

Bolster, a fraud prevention company, revealed in their quarterly report: 2020 State Of Phishing And Online Fraud Report, that almost a third of all confirmed phishing and counterfeit pages mentioned the coronavirus.

Last March, the researchers discovered that there were 102,676 websites forwarding medical scams. 1,092 of these sites were either offering Hydroxychloroquine or spreading fake news about the cure for COVID-19.

Scams on COVID-19 extend beyond offering the availability of a cure. Others offer stimulus checks and loans that heavily target remote workers who are quarantined. Since remote workers are using communication and collaboration platforms now more than ever, there has been a 50% increase in phishing sites preying on them. Streaming phishing sites have also ballooned by as much as 85%.

The report also found that the SaaS and telecom industries suffered the most from this increase in phishing scams, followed by finance, retail, and streaming.

An insidious development details how the coronavirus even gets its own cryptocurrency. One claims that it is the “world’s fastest-spreading cryptocurrency” and tries to trick site visitors into downloading suspicious files from GitHub.

Another site encourages visitors to register and provide personal information to find out more about a coronavirus coin that “gains value as more people die and get infected”.

Abhishek Dubey, the co-founder and CEO of Bolster, highlights the urgency for companies to mount a defence against these security attacks.

“Cybersecurity-conscious organizations will need to work together and leverage AI, automation, and security training to effectively combat phishing and online fraud during this surge and beyond.”